How To Get Into An Elite EMBA Program

Paul Bodine

Paul Bodine

You probably thought you were done with school. But a decade (or two) after you tossed your cap and uncorked the Champagne, you’re thinking about heading back. And it won’t be easy.

Since graduation, you settled down. Now, people depend on you. And there are precious few blocks free on your schedule. At work, you can see the writing on the wall – if you haven’t run smack into it. What got you here won’t take you any further. In fact, you risk losing your hard-fought gains and being passed by if you don’t act. And that means shouldering another responsibility: An Executive MBA.

EMBA programs attract a variety of students, from CEOs-in-training to career changers. They slog through evening and weekend classes, while running multi-million dollar initiatives and keeping their five-year-old smiling. No, an EMBA isn’t just a hefty financial investment, it is a life-altering commitment.

So is it worth it? That depends on your aspirations. After graduation, you’ll have to ask yourself two questions. First, did it help me land the role I coveted? Second – and more important – did it provide the tools – a deep network, exposure to key business scenarios, and an updated and rounded-out skillset – for me to excel in this role? Often, the answers to these questions are rooted in the business program you choose.Paul Bodine book

Enter Paul S. Bodine.

Since 1997, Bodine has been helping MBA candidates earn acceptances to elite programs like Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, INSEAD, Haas, and Fuqua. The author of Great Applications for Business School and proprietor of Paul Bodine Consulting, Bodine has been helping Poets&Quants readers with identifying the best EMBA fits and increasing their chances of being accepted. Now, we’re featuring his best advice to readers over the past three years. From identifying the best EMBA programs for entrepreneurs to showing what it takes to get into Wharton, you’ll find plenty of wisdom and inspiration for deciding which (or even if an) EMBA program works for you.

Check out his advice below.

Do I Make Too Much Money / Am I Too Old For an EMBA?

Do employers Value EMBAs / Will It Help Me Get to Wall Street?

Do I Have a Shot at Wharton / Does an EMBA Help Foreign Professionals Land Work in the U.S.?

Best Schools for Entrepreneurs / Importance of Grades

Options Aside from an EMBA / Right Time to Start / What is “Management Experience”

(To send Paul a question, click here.)



  • Kathleen Brennan

    Great article… I start EMBA at MIT next month; valuable advice here for applicants. Thanks

  • chris

    I am 48 years old. I might not start an EMBA until I am 49 or even 50. Am I too old for such a program?

    • JohnAByrne

      Definitely not. You’ll find a good number of people in their late 40s and early 50s in these programs. It’s a great time to think of an EMBA as a way to refresh your career, give yourself a generous gift of new knowledge and friends, and to bring to bear all the wonderful experience you’ve had to date. Go for it.

  • Great article. I work with EMBA clients, helping them get in to the most competitive programs and offer free initial consultations:

  • creatureji

    I am 31 years and currently pursuing EMBA @Kellogg .. My undergrad grades weren’t that great, but I spent significant amount of time starting and selling web businesses..

    I find EMBA @ Kellogg really amazing and so far it allowed me to talk and network with people and put together team to start new venture.

    F/T MBA programs are different from EMBA, and someone with 15+ years of experience shouldn’t quit work to be with F/T MBA students, other then intellectual power F/T students lack experience on what steps required to put together talented people to execute a plan which in returns generate profit.

    My advise for aspiring EMBA candidates is to have flavor of what they want to achieve in life, be laser focused and frame your ideas in structured way. This will help you connect with people who will understand you better and propel to the levels you want.

    Networking is always tricky, believe in what you want to do and don’t shy away of thoughts about what others will think off you… Speak your mind in social gathering and approach people fearlessly.

    • Julio Cardenas

      Hi, Pundit any admission tips for the Kellogg EMBA? That’s the program I intend to apply for. Thank you

      • pundit420

        several tips.. but I narrow down to top 3 from my experience and what I saw in the program..

        1) Do know your future plans and reflect it on your application as how it related to your past, current and program/ people can guide you.. I was more interested in gaining industry perspective from seasoned executives and thoughts about IT in finance.

        You will meet with some of the Top professors in all of US and I was lucky to meet with someone who enabled me start new venture.

        2) References, have your manager write strong reference letter for you, your accomplishment and how you can progress thru the ranks with this EMBA.

        It’s important because (in my opinion) EMBA students are expected to create own career path/find new job and not rely on career centre.. however they will support you

        3) Students love lively debates inside or outside classroom and what surprised me is ability to complete work and get time for outings/social life… I struggled first few months but learned techniques from them.

        You should also reflect on your application on how you can contribute to the class, stories from your experience in travel, projects, social work, entrepreneurship… opportunities…. More important..

        Not sure about other schools,, but most of the students have no ego.. they driven by instincts / intuition developed from years of experience/knowledge or from personal stories. It’s important you share some examples in interview which shows you have no ego and willing to work with someone even you don’t get along with.

        • Julio Cardenas

          Thank you very much for your useful advice. I’ll keep it in mind when I send my application. My best wishes for your endeavors.

  • Paul Davidsung

    Interesting commentary . I am thankful for the specifics , Does someone know if my company could possibly acquire a fillable OPM OF-306 version to type on ?

    • Ava Cueto

      Greetings Paul Davidsung ! my business partner got ahold of a blank OPM OF-306 document with this link